You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

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A few weeks back I was in Riceball Photography shop where our friend Leon tempted me with the new Voigtlander 21mmF3.5. This is a beautiful lens, particularly with the metal hood attached. I had a try on my M262 in the corridor of the mall (below) and also a week later on the M6 (above).

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I was very enthusiast about the test shots, very sharp, no distortion to my eyes, no color shift on the digital sensor, unlike the test I did of the old Super Angulon F4 a couple weeks before (see below).

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At a price of about 800USD, even when adding the hood (100USD) and the finder (200 USD for 21-25 metal finder), this is a steal for a bout a third of the price of the next Leica lens.

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VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

At this point I came back to my senses and remembered that I bought a 21mmF4 Color Skopar back in 2013, to fit the Leica IIIc. This lens did not get a lot of love for the following reasons : the plastic finder is shait and was replaced once and repaired twice, the color banding on the digital bodies is awful, more subjectively I have a bit of difficulty with the 21mm : I always end up with skewed perspectives that I don’t like very much and also, yes, 21mm is very wide.

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Street shot : VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder : 21mm is wide but gives very dynamic shots

So the reasoning was that, as I have a 21mm already, why not try to address the finder issue first and if I still don’t love the 21mm then there is no point getting a new one. Of course that does not address the digital issue, but everything in its own time.

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Vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

So lets hunt for a 21mm finder. There is a bit of  choice on the market : the plastic VC, the metal 21-25 VC, the old Leica in plastic or metal version, the Leica Universal Wide Finder. Ken Rockwell vouches for the plastic version of the Leica, but I ended up with the VC metal version that Riceball provided me in two weeks.

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More vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

The VC metal finder is a nice piece of kit. It feels very good in the hand, (it better for about 200 USD), fits the cameras (IIIc, M6 and M262) and provide a nice view. I immediately tried it on the digital body and on two rolls of film. and I must say I am pleased with the results.

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Horizontal framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder
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More Horizontal framing ( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)
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More vertical and back light( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)

So now what about the 21mm? Well I will probably have to shoot more before I decide, but already I think going back to my VC 21F4 by buying a new finder was a smart move : shall I love the 21mm and get the new lens, I already have a finder, shall I want to sell it I have a full kit now, or maybe I can just stick with the 21F4 for a  while.

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The 21 is very (very very) wide, the three street shots in this page were taken at about 2 to 3 meters from the subjects and they feel like I was miles away, so I will really need to step very close for my candid shots.

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I generally shoot 28, 35 and 50 Summicrons, so I must say that F4 is not mindblowing, but this is minor. On another hand the 21F4 is very tiny and pleasant to use, so I feel very comfortable when walking around that I look inconspicuous.

On a final note about the color shifting on digital bodies, some of the Leica profiles help correct it, I think one the 28mm F2.8 profile provides better results that others, have try.

  • Film color shots done on Kodak Portra 160NC with Leica M6 Classic
  • B&W shots done on Kodak TriX with Leica M6 Classic
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You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

KEBUN BARU BIRDSINGING CLUB (The Leica M4 SHOTS)

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A follow up of the last post , I showed pictured made with the Hassie 500 CM on Cinestill 50D, but that was the Leica User Group Singapore outing after all, so I carried along a Leica M4 for film shots (here) and a M262 for Digital.

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On the recommendation of fellow members of the group I brought my longer lenses, the 90mm Elmarit and a Canon Serenar 135mmF4  (the bad version). I did not use the Serenar on the M4, it is too unpredictable no use to throw away valuable shots.

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It is easy to see here what shots are taken with the 90mm and whose with the 50mm.

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Shooting with the 90mm is very unusual for me, specially on film. The Elmarit often comes with me on holidays but only for a couple of digital shots. The results are quite pleasing, it offers very different point of view.

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The film is another roll of my bulk Ultrafine Extreme 400 hand-rolled. The processing from the lab was a bit below the usual quality, that’s life.

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You see mostly men in these pictures, but there were many women as well, they just did not come on the frame at the right time.

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KEBUN BARU BIRDSINGING CLUB (The Leica M4 SHOTS)

Warorot Market in Color

Toy stall

Same day different camera in Warorot Market in Chiang Mai, the Leica M262 and the Summilux 50mmv2.

Outside the market the watch repair stall

I do not have a lot to say since the last post of film pictures on the same subject, I think I still prefer the film shots. But the flexibility of the M262 in term of ISO is much appreciated. Can go high and low on demand, it looks so obvious, but not really for a film shooter.

It is also here that I realized the Summilux is seriously back focusing and that maybe I

should get a proper 50mm.

 

This family was rolling some kind of cigarettes.

Serious negotiation (above) about dry goods, looks like everybody was happy in the end.

The coffee shop around the corner, is quite busy and like all the upper section of the market has decent light.

This man is manually making some religious artifacts used as offerings in temples. Below one of the flower stalls doing offerings as well. There are many flower shops  there, some are doing offerings some looks to be casual flower shops.

Warorot Market in Color

Leica M – Model 262 – Back to Digital

So this is it 3 years after borrowing a M9, 2 years after renting a M240 and deciding it was not for me and I better buy a M6 (Which I did), I just turned 50 and offered myself a beautiful M262 and a Summicron 28mmF2.

 

On the first day I went out to the Kong Siak road festival and managed to catch the following shots with the Summilux 50mm VII.

 

A more elaborated review will follow shortly, but it was time to share those.

Leica M – Model 262 – Back to Digital

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day two, Saturday)

So Saturday I woke up pretty excited and checked the dream was true and the M240 was still on my desk : yes it was. I am not a pro and no capacity of doing any technical test; all I am interested is to see how the camera feels and how it fares for my usual type of shooting. So I have planned a kind of tour of Singapore for the week-end, visiting some of the places where I often go when I am free and in shooting mood.

This morning direction Chinatown, in walking distance from my place. I still have the Summilux on the camera and I’ll keep it for the whole day.

First stop at the Tan Si Chong Su chinese temple, to take some pictures of sculptures and decorations. Here comes the first revelation of the day : the original Leitz filter of the Summilux is hazy! This beautiful peace of metal and glass that goes for a fortune on ebay is just no good. I never spotted it on film. So the filter goes in the pocket and I go on with my walk.

 

On the way to Chinatown if the popular area of People’s Park Comples with many eateries like the above roasted duck store. The quality in subdued light is nice and I would day the color rendering is perfect to my taste.

Getting into the Chinatown Complex, I walk to the wet market where you can find a lot of different things, including frogs and turtles. The above is quite sharp with focus on the eye of the frog on the left.

Fish stalls are the most attractive, but for vegetarians you can also find vegetables stalls. The above shot is my favorite, but as someone pointed out lacks of sharpness.

At this point I must give my second conclusion of the day: I messed up with the auto ISO and the Aperture mode. I was happy to find this mode on the M240 and the M9 because this is how  like to shoot in the Nikon world, however here because of my lack of knowledge of the settings, the camera chose some ridiculous low speeds instead of cranking up the ISO. So a lot of my indoors shots are lacking crispness because of minor camera shake.

 

Outside of the Chinatown Complex is an area where older men are playing Chinese chess and checkers. It is always a delight to shoot the game.

 

The Summilux close and wide open

It is quite nice to have such a small camera, people are not afraid of it, it does not look out of place like my D700 would. All in all I look like a tourist with a retro looking compact digital camera.

Back in the Chinatown complex, I head for the food center (In Singapore life revolves around food) for  a drink (Sugar Cane juice) and browse through the stalls of the hawkers. Here again my pictures suffered from the same issue with speed and ISO.

 

Life is not only about photography and I must go on the other side of town to have lunch with a friend and collect my bike. Cycling home, I have a nap and head for a traditional show later in the afternoon. On the way some young dudes are doing some graffiti on Somerset skate park.

 

The pictures of the show are useless but that’s nothing to do with the camera.

This first real day of shooting was great, this is a nice camera for what I am usually doing. There is nothing that I do not like. Some small remarks:

– yes I should have known, but this is not really a camera for close range, the minimum range for the rangefinder is about 1 meter so it is not great for shooting food or firend over the lunch table

– on the Summilux it takes a while to adjust from close to far; I much prefer the quick focus of the Elmarit or the Summicron; I will have to try a Cron 50 or 35

– unlike it has been said in some reviews I did not hit the “M” (movie) button once,

– the On-Off button is very easy to use,

– my half case however press on the live view button and this is a bit annoying

 

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day two, Saturday)

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day one, Friday)

This is it, I finally found a way to get my hands on a Leica M240 without breaking the piggy bank : I have rented it for a week-end. I never really thought of renting camera gear, but actually that makes a lot of sense. I managed to have 3 days to play around with this expensive toy for a fraction of the cost. I rented a M240 black and an Elmarit 28mmF22.8 here in Singapore at Camera Rental on new bridge road for less than 400 SGD where the combo costs something around 13K. Quite effective, oh did I mention this is my birthday present (the rental).

So this is it, it is nearly 4pm on Friday and on the way to work I collect the beast. As I said in my last post I borrowed a M9 and Summicron 28mmf2 a few weeks back so I am not overly surprised by the first contact. There are however a few immediate differences:

  • the screen in larger
  • the shutter is a loss less noisy (I could not figure out why the M9 had to make so much noise)
  • the Elmarit is so small, the idea of its price makes me laugh, nobody would ever believe it

I have brought my old Summilux 50mmF1.4 and tries it in the shop, it looks to be working well and frankly it will hardly leave the body.

On the way to the office I stopped at the Yueh Hai Ching Temple  and take a few shots, the weather is overcast and sun quickly going down anyway, so nothing exceptional.

I tried a few portraits while in the office with the available light. Wide open the results are a bit soft and probably suffers from some little camera shake due to the slow speed set by the camera. Yes I made the mistake to set the speed to Auto, I did not realize until later that instead of cranking up the ISO the camera lowers the speed until it reaches 1/focal length. But as the Summilux is not recognized by the camera the lower speed is not calculated (I think) so some shots were done at 1/12th and 200 ISO: ridiculous.

Later I go outside for a walk and take some handheld shots of Marina Bay with the 28mm with manual settings, clearly that fares a little bit better.

I have big plans for the Saturday, so I go straight to bed after work.

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day one, Friday)